Ahead of the release of their debut album Hold Your Forked Tongue, Leicester based synth driven purveyors of haunting melancholia and pounding electro bangers sat down with Great Central to talk album recording, shooting the video for second single Life Séances and unexpected design inspiration.
Vocalist Adam Pickering’s question early in the in conversation: “Who’s going to get enthusiastic about a bunch of 30 year old men playing music unless they already know what they sound like?” belies both the fears and fierce convictions that drive the band.
Whilst this is the first full-length release for Rich List, the members of the band have an illustrious history. Gavin Thorpe (guitars), Adam (vocals) and Daniel Faulkner (bass) having all been in the much lauded Minnaars; and Jamie Ward (drums/production) being a member of the now disbanded Maybeshewill, and releasing a new album with Dark Dark Horse.
With the video for Life Séances having just been released, they reflected on the reaction they’ve had so far, with Adam noting “Somebody asked me yesterday if I lip synced throughout the video, I don’t know if that was a review of the video” to which Gavin retorts “I think: tell them that that is the audio from the shoot and wait ‘til you hear the album version.”
This interchange between the two band members descends fast, with Adam having the closing words on their live performance with “Gavin’s guitar is entirely recorded” and “we’re a more ‘80s Milli Vanilli.” This is of course far from the truth, but the fact that the two are so comfortable with one another that this kind of comment doesn’t cause inter-band ructions is testament to their strong working relationship.
Talking about recording Hold Your Forked Tongue, and the band’s focus on ensuring that they had a strong album before committing to a considerable live run; Gavin reflects “The process was enjoyable because we like recording with Jamie, and when we started out we were recording to satisfy our own curiosity as to whether we could still write songs. It’s my favourite thing to do, I enjoy playing live to varying degrees, but recording is the thing I look forward to most. If finances weren’t an issue I’d be doing it every free minute.”
“We are keen to get in the studio so we take three quarters of a song in and then see what we can do to finish it whilst we’re recording it. We’re tricksy with music, in that, we’re not Battles, but we do like to push what can be recorded; we certainly don’t subscribe to the ethos that if you can’t play it live it shouldn’t be on the record.”
Adam adds “We’ve decided that; where previously we’d want to be good at playing live, then write some songs, then do an album, in that order, which is the traditional way of doing it for a band I guess; successful people seem to turn up with a million songs in the first place. I always find it terrifying when you read about your Carly Rae Jepson’s of the world, saying that she’s got an album with 100 songs written for it.”
Gavin adds that “We only really play our songs live after we’ve recorded them, because of the intricacy of the synth parts we kind of need to go through the studio.”
Going on to talk about the lyrics, Adam again “I want it to sound universal, but not the same as everything else everyone’s ever written. Some of the songs sound like love songs, they definitely aren’t. There are universal issues about being an idiot and being old, everybody’s done both of those things at least once.”
The opaque meaning of some of the work sometimes evades the author at the time of writing, as Adam explains, “I quite often realize what I’m singing about after the event. The Family’s probably the one that I understand from beginning to end.”
As well as having a clear idea of how they want the work to come across sonically, it’s apparent from the direct and minimal styling of the artwork for Hold Your Forked Tongue, that Rich List are just as fastidious about their aesthetic representation, on the roots and inspiration for this attention to detail. Adam says “A lot our favourite music is from that ‘80s era where people like Peter Saville and New Order, Pet Shop Boys, OMD; their artwork was always banging. It’s nice to see a coherent group of work, that’s important to me.”
Inspiration for the design can come from some obscure places, with Adam explaining that the “gold bin letters that you’ll have seen in any hardware store” inspired the bands logo.
As Rich List work on plans to take their honed musical offerings out on the road in the coming months, the subject of potential and ideal touring partners comes up. Gavin speaks very fondly of Gallops; who they’ve recently supported, mentioning that the Welsh three piece “owe us a European tour, we have pointed this out to them.”
Adam’s hesitant about where to position Rich List “I really struggle with this question because I don’t know what we sound like” with Gavin suggesting that “I could place us with Chvrches, NZCA Lines, that kind of slightly ‘80s without being, I would hope, derivative ‘80s; retrospective synth led music.”
As to whether they see themselves as a Leicester music scene band, Gavin offers “Yeah, if they’ll have us.” In terms of where they fit within this music scene, their enforced exile to produce the album has left Adam somewhat unsure “We need to get back to playing live, we’ve been so in our own cupboard for a while, we need to find out what everybody else is doing.”
Hold Your Forked Tongue is released on August 9th.